WO2003061240A1 - Targeted scalable video multicast based on client bandwidth or capability - Google Patents

Targeted scalable video multicast based on client bandwidth or capability

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Publication number
WO2003061240A1
WO2003061240A1 PCT/IB2003/000073 IB0300073W WO2003061240A1 WO 2003061240 A1 WO2003061240 A1 WO 2003061240A1 IB 0300073 W IB0300073 W IB 0300073W WO 2003061240 A1 WO2003061240 A1 WO 2003061240A1
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WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
data
stream
bandwidth
video
streams
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/IB2003/000073
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Der Schaar Mihaela Van
Original Assignee
Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L65/00Network arrangements or protocols for real-time communications
    • H04L65/40Services or applications
    • H04L65/4069Services related to one way streaming
    • H04L65/4076Multicast or broadcast
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L29/00Arrangements, apparatus, circuits or systems, not covered by a single one of groups H04L1/00 - H04L27/00 contains provisionally no documents
    • H04L29/02Communication control; Communication processing contains provisionally no documents
    • H04L29/06Communication control; Communication processing contains provisionally no documents characterised by a protocol
    • H04L29/0602Protocols characterised by their application
    • H04L29/06027Protocols for multimedia communication
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L65/00Network arrangements or protocols for real-time communications
    • H04L65/80QoS aspects
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand]
    • H04N21/20Servers specifically adapted for the distribution of content, e.g. VOD servers; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/23Processing of content or additional data; Elementary server operations; Server middleware
    • H04N21/234Processing of video elementary streams, e.g. splicing of content streams, manipulating MPEG-4 scene graphs
    • H04N21/2343Processing of video elementary streams, e.g. splicing of content streams, manipulating MPEG-4 scene graphs involving reformatting operations of video signals for distribution or compliance with end-user requests or end-user device requirements
    • H04N21/234327Processing of video elementary streams, e.g. splicing of content streams, manipulating MPEG-4 scene graphs involving reformatting operations of video signals for distribution or compliance with end-user requests or end-user device requirements by decomposing into layers, e.g. base layer and one or more enhancement layers
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand]
    • H04N21/20Servers specifically adapted for the distribution of content, e.g. VOD servers; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/25Management operations performed by the server for facilitating the content distribution or administrating data related to end-users or client devices, e.g. end-user or client device authentication, learning user preferences for recommending movies
    • H04N21/258Client or end-user data management, e.g. managing client capabilities, user preferences or demographics, processing of multiple end-users preferences to derive collaborative data
    • H04N21/25808Management of client data
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand]
    • H04N21/20Servers specifically adapted for the distribution of content, e.g. VOD servers; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/25Management operations performed by the server for facilitating the content distribution or administrating data related to end-users or client devices, e.g. end-user or client device authentication, learning user preferences for recommending movies
    • H04N21/266Channel or content management, e.g. generation and management of keys and entitlement messages in a conditional access system, merging a VOD unicast channel into a multicast channel
    • H04N21/2662Controlling the complexity of the video stream, e.g. by scaling the resolution or bitrate of the video stream based on the client capabilities
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand]
    • H04N21/60Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand] using Network structure or processes specifically adapted for video distribution between server and client or between remote clients; Control signaling specific to video distribution between clients, server and network components, e.g. to video encoder or decoder; Transmission of management data between server and client, e.g. sending from server to client commands for recording incoming content stream; Communication details between server and client
    • H04N21/63Control signaling related to video distribution between client, server and network components; Network processes for video distribution between server and clients or between remote clients, e.g. transmitting basic layer and enhancement layers over different transmission paths, setting up a peer-to-peer communication via Internet between remote STB's; Communication protocols; Addressing
    • H04N21/64Addressing
    • H04N21/6405Multicasting
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand]
    • H04N21/60Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand] using Network structure or processes specifically adapted for video distribution between server and client or between remote clients; Control signaling specific to video distribution between clients, server and network components, e.g. to video encoder or decoder; Transmission of management data between server and client, e.g. sending from server to client commands for recording incoming content stream; Communication details between server and client
    • H04N21/65Transmission of management data between client and server
    • H04N21/658Transmission by the client directed to the server
    • H04N21/6582Data stored in the client, e.g. viewing habits, hardware capabilities, credit card number

Abstract

A server or proxy server (200) transmits streaming video data. An identification is made of either: an average or minimum available bandwidth of a link over which a data stream (210, 220) of a given video segment is to be transmitted or a capability of a recipient host (240, 250, 260) to which the data stream is to be transmitted. A selection is made of either: a corresponding one of a plurality of predetermined ranges of bandwidths so that the selected range contains the identified average minimum available bandwidth; or a corresponding one of a plurality of different data stream types (210, 220) so that the identified capability of the recipient host (240, 250, 260) is used to process data of the selected data stream type. The data stream is coded in a manner which takes advantage of the range of bandwidths or type of data stream that has been or is to be selected. The coded data stream is transmitted over the link to a recipient.

Description

TARGETED SCALABLE VIDEO MULTICAST BASED ON CLIENT BANDWIDTH OR CAPABILITY

The present invention relates to video coding generally, and more specifically to scalable video coding methods for video streaming.

Video streaming over Internet Protocol (IP) networks has enabled a wide range of multimedia applications. Internet video streaming provides real-time delivery and presentation of continuous media content while compensating for the lack of Quality-of- Service (QoS) guarantees over the Internet. Due to the variation and unpredictability of bandwidth and other performance parameters (e.g., packet loss rate) over IP networks, in general, most of the proposed streaming solutions are based on some type of a layered (or scalable) video coding scheme.

Multicasting of video over the Internet is expected to be an important technology area for many multimedia applications in the 21st century. These applications include the viewing of major television events by millions of Internet users around the globe. To achieve this level of proliferation, multicast Internet video requires the development of quality scalable- video coding algorithms.

Several video scalability approaches have been adopted by video compression standards such as MPEG-2, MPEG-4, and H.263. Temporal, spatial, and quality (SNR) scalability types have been defined in these standards. All of these types of scalable video include a Base Layer (BL) and one or more Enhancement Layers (ELs). The BL part of the scalable video stream represents, in general, the minimum amount of data needed for decoding that stream. The EL part of the stream represents additional information, and therefore enhances the video signal representation when decoded by the receiver.

Fine Granular Scalability (FGS) is anew video compression framework that has been recently adopted by the MPEG-4 standard for streaming applications. FGS is capable of supporting a wide range of bandwidth- variation scenarios that characterize IP- based networks, in general, and the Internet, in particular. Images coded with this type of scalability can be decoded progressively. That is, the decoder can start decoding and displaying the image after receiving a very small amount of data. As the decoder receives more data, the quality of the decoded image is progressively enhanced until the complete information is received, decoded, and displayed. Among lead international standards, progressive image coding is one of the modes supported in JPEG and the still-image, texture coding tool in MPEG-4 video. The convergence of the Internet with new wireless and mobile networks is creating a whole new level of heterogeneity in multimedia communications. This increased level of heterogeneity emphasizes the need for scalable and adaptive video solutions both for coding and transmission purposes. However, in general, there is an inherent tradeoff between the level of scalability and the quality of scalable video streams. In other words, the higher the bandwidth variation, the lower the overall video quality of the scalable stream that is needed to support the desired bandwidth range.

Fig. 1 is a block diagram of an exemplary prior art scalable coding system. A streaming server 100 codes a data stream comprising Intra coded (I) packets 108, Predictive coded (P) packets, and Bi-directionally coded (B) packets (not shown) to form a base layer 101 and an enhancement layer 102, having a plurality of enhancement channels 103-107. In this prior art system 100, the content (e.g., a video segment) is coded once, for a multitude of bit-rates using a scalable coding scheme. Then, this scalable content can be multicasted to a set of receivers 120, 130, 140 having various bandwidth or capabilities, by dividing the BL 101 and EL 102 in a set of discrete individual multicast channels 101, 103-107. As shown in Fig. 1 the various clients 120, 130, 140 subscribe to a different numbers of channels. Client 120 receives the base layer 101 and the first three ELs 103-105. . Client 130 receives the base layer 101 and only the first EL 103. . Client 140 receives the base layer 101 and all five ELs 103-107. By coding the content 108, 109 with just one scalable stream, a high coding efficiency penalty results between the non-scalable codec performance and FGS, due to the lack of motion compensation (MC) of FGS.

Alternatively, different methods can be employed to improve the quality of FGS, such as MC-FGS structures, frequency weighting, selective enhancement and the like. However, all these techniques benefit the quality only around a selected bit-rate range. Moreover, if a specific set of terminals have certain capabilities (e.g. a powerful MC function), the prior art does not allow the streaming server 100 to take advantage of the capabilities of these recipients, because it must deliver a data stream that can be decoded by a recipient host that lacks these capabilities.

An improved method for providing streaming data transmission is desired. The present invention is a method and system for transmitting video data. An identification is made of either: (1) an average or minimum available bandwidth of a link over which a data stream of a given video segment is to be transmitted or (2) a capability of a recipient host to which the data stream is to be transmitted. A selection is made of either: (1) a corresponding one of a plurality of predetermined ranges of bandwidths so that the selected range contains the identified average minimum available bandwidth; or (2) a corresponding one of a plurality of different data stream types so that the identified capability of the recipient host is used to process data of the selected data stream type. The data stream is coded in a manner which takes advantage of the range of bandwidths or type of data stream that has been or is to be selected. The coded data stream is transmitted over the link to a recipient.

Fig. 1 is block diagram of a conventional system for transmitting streaming data over the Internet.

Fig. 2 is a block diagram of an exemplary system according to the invention. Fig. 3 is a flow chart diagram of a first exemplary method according to the invention, wherein multiple data streams are coded before selecting a type of stream to stream to a recipient.

Fig. 4 is a flow chart diagram of a second exemplary method according to the invention, wherein a type of stream to stream to a recipient is selected before coding the data stream.

Fig. 5 is a diagram showing how the tradeoff between complexity and efficiency affects choice of data stream type for FGS data streams.

In the exemplary embodiments of the invention, the scalability range is restricted in order to improve the transmission/coding efficiency and to restrict the variation in receiver complexity requirements .

Fig. 2 is a block diagram of a system for transmitting video data according to the present invention. The system has a streaming server 200 that codes and may store a plurality of streams 210, 220 for the same content (e.g., video segment), to target different recipient groups having different link bandwidths or different recipient host group capabilities. Server 200 decides which data stream (representation of the content) to multicast to a set of receivers based on their capabilities or the available "average" bit-rate of the link connecting the recipient to the server.

Server 200 can code two or more different data streams representing the same content (e.g., video segment). Although only two data streams 210 and 220 are shown, three or more streams may be used.

For server 200, for example, a set of FGS, progressive FGS (P-FGS) or motion compression FGS (MC-FGS) streams, targeted at various bit-rate "ranges" (preferably, not very wide ranges) are either coded a priori and stored for later use, or real-time coded individually in response to requests. Also, various quality improvement tools can be employed. Then, when a client 240, 250 or 260 wants to set-up a connection, the client informs server 200 about both its capability and average available bandwidth. Then, server 200 can decide in which 'bandwidth range' the client 240, 250, 260 is situated (or what capability the client has) and select for each individual client or client group a set of channels. The video data are then targeted to this bandwidth range (or client capability).

The system is particularly useful in multicast environments, striking a balance between the unicast mode (which allows tailoring of the data stream to best serve a single recipient) and broadcast mode (which allows most efficient coding in a streaming server by coding a single data stream for all recipient groups). In prior art systems, the disadvantage of using just one scalable coded stream for a large bit-rate range is the resulting quality penalty gap. Advantageously, system 200 can send bit-streams to the various receivers 240, 250, 260 that take into consideration the terminal capabilities or available "average" bit-rate for each recipient group. System 200 can target a stream to these parameters. This method takes into consideration the clients'/receivers' "average" available bandwidth or terminals' capabilities, when deciding which video data stream should be transmitted and allocated across the multiple channels accessible to each individual group of receivers. The exemplary method results in a higher quality at the receiver side, and a more efficient utilization of resources.

For example, assume that, as shown in Fig. 2, clients 240 and 260 belong to a recipient group having a high average available bandwidth, and client 250 belongs to a recipient group having a low average available bandwidth. For the set of receivers (e.g., 250) with low bit-rates, four channels are sent, one channel 221 containing base-layer data 228, 229, a second channel 223 containing the most significant bit (MSB) of the FGS data, and the other two channels 224 and 225 containing FGS enhancement-layer data of lesser significance. Six channels are sent to another set of receivers 240, 260 with high bit-rates, including one channel 218 containing base-layer data, one layer 213 containing the MSB of the FGS EL data, and the other four channels 214-217 containing FGS EL data of lesser significance. Unlike prior art systems in which only a single data stream is coded for a video segment, in system 200, the individual layers 211, 213, 214, 215 of data stream 210 are not required to be the same as the corresponding layers 221, 223, 224, 225 of data stream 220, even though both data streams are representations of the same content (e.g., video segment). In some embodiments of the invention, the various streams all share the same BL, but have respectively different ELs. In other embodiments, the streams may have respectively different BLs. An example including different BLs, is the MC-FGS case, when part of the EL is included in the BL of one of the streams for the prediction of the BL. In this scenario, the BL is different in the two streams. For example, data stream 210 may be coded without frequency weighting, and data stream 220 may be coded with frequency weighting, or vice- versa. Similarly, the data stream 220 may be coded with selective enhancement or any other quality improvement tool targeted towards a particular bit-rate range.

Many other variations are possible besides those shown in Fig. 2, and can readily be appreciated by those skilled in the art. In another example, the low data rate stream 220 may include two channels, one containing base-layer data, the other the MSB of the FGS data with frequency weighting. The high data rate stream 210 may contain four channels, one containing base-layer data, a second layer containing the MSB of the FGS EL data (without frequency weighting), and the other two channels containing FGS EL data of lesser significance. These are only examples, and are not limiting.

For any given mix of recipients in a multicast groups (MG), a methodology based on the mix of recipients is followed to determine what the data streams should be. For example, assume that there are 1000 devices listening to the MG and 10% of them have a bandwidth as low as 100 kbps. The remaining 90% of them have a bandwidth between 300 kbps and 1.0 Mbps. Then an MC-FGS stream should be used with a BL of 100 kbps for the first data stream (low data rate users), and an extended BL of 300 kbps should be used for the second data stream (high data rate users). In another example, if 30% of devices or more have bandwidth below 300 kbps, then transmitting an FGS stream with a BL of 100 kbs is more appropriate. Hence, the algorithm should look at the various scalable streams, and decide which one to stream based on the complexity or efficiency of these streams. System 200 uses more bandwidth than in prior art systems, wherein just one stream is sent to all receivers, but system 200 uses less bandwidth than in the case of individually tailoring each data stream in a non-scalable based streaming environment (e.g., for unicast transmission). Thus, system 200 provides a good compromise between the bandwidth utilization across the network and the achieved quality at the receivers 240, 250, 260.

Figs. 3 and 4 show two exemplary methods for using system 200, comprising four steps. These four steps are executed in respectively different orders in Figs. 3 and 4. One step includes identifying a bandwidth of a link or a capacity of a recipient host. In the case of bandwidth, an average or minimum available bandwidth of a link over which a data stream of a given video segment is to be transmitted is identified. Alternatively a capability of a recipient host to which the data stream is to be transmitted may be identified.

Another step includes selecting either a range of bandwidths or a data stream type. The range of bandwidths may be one of a plurality of predetermined ranges of bandwidths, such that the selected range contains the identified average or minimum available bandwidth. The data stream type may be one of a plurality of different data stream types, such that the identified capability of the recipient host is used to process data of the selected data stream type.

Another step includes coding the data stream in a manner that takes advantage of the range of bandwidths or type of data stream that has been selected or is to be selected. The coding may be performed before or after the selecting. If the coding step precedes the selecting step, then the selection is made from the same group of data streams that have been previously coded.

The remaining step includes transmitting the coded data stream over the link to a recipient.

Fig. 3 shows a first exemplary method, in which the coding step precedes the selecting step.

At step 300, server 200 codes a plurality of data streams. The plurality of data streams each correspond to a respectively different combination of a bandwidth range and/or a set of recipient capabilities.

At step 302, the plurality of data streams is stored within server 200.

At step 304, a request for starting a streaming session is received from a receiver of the video data, or a users group of receivers. At step 306, the receiver or users group of receivers identify the minimum or average available bandwidth and/or specific capabilities of the receiver(s). This involves communication between receiver & sender regarding, for example, which streams are available at the sender side (i.e., which options are available for the receiver). This communication/negotiation can be done through a protocol such as RTSP or the like. Then, the receiver can subscribe to a particular (set of) scalable video tracks.

Steps 304 and 306 may be begun before or after the first time steps 300 and 302 are performed. Preferably, steps 300 and 302 are performed first. In any event, in the embodiment of Fig. 3, step 306 (identying capabilities and bandwidth) is performed before step 308.

At step 308, the server selects an appropriate stream to be transmitted to the particular MG. The selection can be reduced to application of simple criteria. For example, if the data streams differ in target bandwidth range, then the data stream having the largest bandwidth range that does not exceed the data rate of the user's (or users group's) link is selected. If the data streams differ in target recipient host capability, then the data stream corresponding to this specific host's (or users group's) capability is selected. If the data streams differ in both target bandwidth range and capability, then both criteria are applied.

At step 310, the optimal scalable video stream for the user or users group (i.e., the available stream that best takes advantages of the bandwidth and/or capabilities of the recipient or recipient group) is streamed to the user.

After the first time that steps 300-310 are executed, for streaming data to additional recipients, steps 304-310 are repeated. It is not necessary to repeat steps 300 and 302, unless new data streams are to be added.

Thus, in the method of Fig. 3, the various data streams representing the same video segment can be coded in advance. Upon identification of the bandwidth or capability of a given MG, the appropriate data stream is available for immediate streaming to that MG. The receivers can be grouped together in a MG based on their requests for a particular scalable stream.

A specific (but not limiting example) of the method of Fig. 3 includes: coding a plurality of data streams using a fine granular scalability technique, each of the plurality of data streams corresponding to a respectively different range of data rates at which the data streams are to be transmitted; determining an average or minimum available bandwidth of a link over which one of the data streams is to be transmitted; selecting the one of the plurality of ranges having a greatest data rate among all of the plurality of ranges that can be accommodated by a data rate of the link over which the video data are to be transmitted; and streaming the data stream corresponding to the selected range.

Fig. 4 is a flow chart diagram of a second exemplary method according to the invention. In the method of Fig. 4, the identifying step precedes the coding step. The steps of identifying a bandwidth or capability, selecting a bandwidth range or data stream type, and coding the data stream that takes advantage of the range of bandwidths or type of data stream are performed in real time or near real time in response to a request for the video segment.

Using the method of Fig. 4, the identifying, selecting and coding steps can be performed in first and second iterations for the same video segment, with a respectively different average or minimum available bandwidth or recipient host capability identified during each of the first and second iterations, and a respectively different coded data stream is provided for the same video segment during each of the first and second iterations. Thus, it is still possible to code two different scalable data streams that are tailored for the individual recipients or recipient groups. At step 400 a receiver user or a group of receivers requests a session.

At step 402, server 200 (or a proxy server) receives from the recipient host an identification of the average or minimum available bandwidth of the link or an identification of the recipient host capability when the link is established.

At step 404, the appropriate bandwidth and/or capability for this user or users' group (i.e., one of a limited number of predetermined bandwidth/capability combinations that best takes advantages of the bandwidth and/or capabilities of the recipient or recipient group) is selected.

At step 406, server 200 codes a data stream for the selected bandwidth and/or capabilities of the recipient(s). At step 408, the coded data stream is transmitted to the user or user group.

Steps 400 to 408 are repeated. Each time, a different combination of bandwidth and/or capabilities may be selected from a predetermined set having a limited number of bandwidths and/or capabilities.

In Figs. 3 and 4, the bandwidth is indicated by the receivers based on either their preference (e.g. the amount of money they want to pay for a particular QoS level) or the empirically experienced bandwidth (this can be determined by channel estimation mechanisms, RTCP reports and the like.).

The following example is for a case with three different data streams (QCIF, CIF and SD), all representing the same video segment. FOR quarter common interchange format (QCIF) resolution images (i.e. 176x144 pixels)

10kbps FGS

30kbps FGS

10+30 MCFGS For common interchange format (CIF) resolution images (i.e. 352x288 pixels) lOOkbs FGS

300kbps FGS

100+300 MCFGS

For Standard Definition (SD) resolution images (i.e. 720x480 pixels) 1Mbps FGS

3Mbps FGS

5Mbps FGS

In the example above, the three data streams have respectively different BLs and respectively different ELs. However, examples can be designed like the one above about Frequency Weighting where the BL is the same in all cases.

Fig. 5 is a diagram showing how the tradeoff between complexity and efficiency affects choice of data stream type for FGS data streams. An example of an application of the strategy is as follows. Assume that there are 1000 devices listening to the

MG and 90% of them are having a bandwidth between 300 kbps and 1Mbps. The rest have a bandwidth as low as 100 kbps. Then MC-FGS stream should be used with a BL of 100 kbps and an extended BL of 300 kbps. The extended base level includes the normal BL information, plus extra information taken from one or more of the Els. Alternatively, if 30% of devices or more have bandwidth below 300 kbps, then transmitting an FGS stream with a

BL of 100 kbps is more appropriate. Thus, switching between FGS and MC-FGS structures (i.e., selecting either an FGS stream or an MC-FGS stream) based on bandwidth is contemplated.

Hence, the algorithm should look at the various scalable streams, and decide which one to stream based on the complexity or efficiency of these streams.

Optionally, the decision as to which data stream is sent to a particular receiver can be "remade" within a session, if the bandwidth available to a client varies dramatically.

This may be accomplished by deciding to send to that client a different stream, e.g., by switching. Alternatively, that client may be comiected to a different MG with more similar bandwidth/receiver characteristics. Server 200 may code streams that are optimized for variety of different receiver capabilities, including, but not limited to: CPU, Memory, Coprocessors (Motion-compensation, Frame- rate upconvertors, post-processing, and the like.). The same capabilities are considered in deciding which stream to send to a given multicast group (MG). Thus, it may be possible , to improve the FGS quality across the whole bit-rate range.

Although the exemplary system 200 transmits data streams over the Internet, this method would also benefit scalable media streaming for wireless links.

Although the example described above includes FGS, it is contemplated that the invention may be applied to other scalability types, such as wavelet-based scalable video coding (e.g. 3D SPTHT (Set Partitioning Into Hierarchical Trees ) and the like), hybrid temporal-SNR-spatial scalability techniques based on MPEG-4, and the like.

Although the exemplary system 200 stores the various data streams within the server, the data streams may alternatively be stored in a proxy server. The proxy server may be, for example, a router or a gateway, or a base station of a wireless network. The proxy server may provide various data streams to wireless client devices (e.g., telephones, palmtop computers, personal digital assistants, wireless modems, and the like), with each stream targeted to a respectively different combination of bandwidth and/or client capabilities. Systems having two or three streams offer improved video for recipients having higher bandwidth or additional processing capabilities, without a large sacrifice in efficiency. It is also contemplated that a server may store four or five streams or more. It is understood that the recipient may be any of a variety of devices, including, but not limited to a desktop, laptop or palmtop computer, a television, a set top converter box, a video image storage device such as a video tape recorder or digital video recorder, a TiVO device, combinations of the above, and the like. The present invention may be embodied in the form of computer-implemented processes and apparatus for practicing those processes. The present invention may also be embodied in the form of computer program code embodied in tangible media, such as floppy diskettes, read only memories (ROMs), CD-ROMs, hard disk drives, ZTpTM drives, or any other computer-readable storage medium, wherein, when the computer program code is loaded into and executed by a computer, the computer becomes an apparatus for practicing the invention. The present invention may also be embodied in the form of computer program code, for example, whether stored in a storage medium, loaded into and/or executed by a computer, or transmitted over some transmission medium, such as over the electrical wiring or cabling, through fiber optics, or via electromagnetic radiation, wherein, when the computer program code is loaded into and executed by a computer, the computer becomes an apparatus for practicing the invention. When implemented on a general-purpose processor, the computer program code segments configure the processor to create specific logic circuits.

Although the invention has been described in terms of exemplary embodiments, it is not limited thereto. Rather, the appended claim should be construed broadly, to include other variants and embodiments of the invention which may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the scope and range of equivalents of the invention.

Claims

CLAIMS:
1. A method for transmitting video data, comprising the steps of:
(a) identifying one of the group consisting of: (1) an average or minimum available bandwidth of a link over which a data stream of a given video segment is to be transmitted; and (2) a capability of a recipient host to which the data stream is to be transmitted;
(b) selecting a corresponding one of the group consisting of: (1) one of a plurality of predetermined ranges of bandwidths, so that the selected range contains the identified average or minimum available bandwidth; and (2) one of a plurality of different data stream types, so that the identified capability of the recipient host is used to process data of the selected data stream type;
(c) coding the data stream in a manner which takes advantage of the range of bandwidths or type of data stream that has been or is to be selected; and
(d) transmitting the coded data stream over the link to the recipient host.
2. The method of claim 1 , wherein
- step (c) precedes step (a), and
- step (c) includes coding a plurality of data streams, each corresponding to a respectively different one of the plurality of predetermined ranges of bandwidths.
3. The method of claim 2, wherein a scalable coding technique is used, and two of the plurality of data streams have a common base layer and respectively different enhancement layers.
4. The method of claim 3, wherein a first one of the two data streams has an enhancement layer with frequency weighting, selective enhancement or any other quality improvement tool targeted towards a particular bit-rate range, and a second one of the two data streams has an enhancement layer without frequency weighting.
5. The method of claim 1 , wherein - step (a) precedes step (c), and
- steps (a), (b) and (c) are performed in real time or near real time in response to a request for the video segment.
6. The method of claim 1, wherein:
- step (a) precedes step (c),
- steps (a), (b), (c) and (d) are performed in first and second iterations for the same video segment,
- a respectively different average or minimum available bandwidth or recipient host capability is identified in step (a) during each of the first and second iterations,
- a respectively different coded data stream is provided for the same video segment in step (c) during each of the first and second iterations.
7. The method of claim 1, wherein step (a) includes receiving from the recipient host an identification of the average or minimum available bandwidth of the link or an identification of the recipient host capability when the link is established.
8. The method of claim 1 , wherein the identified capability is the ability to perform motion compensation.
9. The method of claim 1, wherein:
- step (a) includes determining an average or minimum available bandwidth of a link over which one of the data streams is to be transmitted;
- step (b) includes selecting the one of the plurality of ranges having a greatest data rate among all of the plurality of ranges that can be accommodated by a data rate of the link over which the video data are to be transmitted; and
- step (c) includes coding a plurality of data streams using a fine granular scalability technique, each of the plurality of data streams corresponding to a respectively different range of data rates at which the data streams are to be transmitted.
10. A system for transmitting video data, comprising the steps of:
(a) means for identifying one of the group consisting of: (1) an average or minimum available bandwidth of a link over which a data stream of a given video segment is to be transmitted; and (2) a capability of a recipient host to which the data stream is to be transmitted;
(b) means for selecting a corresponding one of the group consisting of: (1) one of a plurality of predetermined ranges of bandwidths, so that the selected range contains the identified bandwidth; and (2) one of a plurality of different data stream types, so that the identified capability of the recipient host is used to process data of the selected data stream type;
(c) means for coding the data stream in a manner which takes advantage of the range of bandwidths or type of data stream that has been or is to be selected; and (d) means for transmitting the coded data stream over the link to the recipient host.
11. A machine readable medium that contains computer program code, wherein, when the computer program code is executed by a processor, the processor performs a method for transmitting video data, comprising the steps of:
(a) identifying one of the group consisting of: (1) an average or minimum available bandwidth of a link over which a data stream of a given video segment is to be transmitted; and (2) a capability of a recipient host to which the data stream is to be transmitted; (b) selecting a corresponding one of the group consisting of: (1) one of a plurality of predetermined ranges of bandwidths, so that the selected range contains the identified bandwidth; and (2) one of a plurality of different data stream types, so that the identified capability of the recipient host is used to process data of the selected data stream type; (c) coding the data stream in a manner which takes advantage of the range of bandwidths or type of data stream that has been or is to be selected; and
(d) transmitting the coded data stream over the link to the recipient host.
12. A signal encoded with data representing computer program code, wherein, when the computer program code is executed by a processor, the processor performs a method for transmitting video data, comprising the steps of:
(a) identifying one of the group consisting of: (1) an average or minimum available bandwidth of a link over which a data stream of a given video segment is to be transmitted; and (2) a capability of a recipient host to which the data stream is to be transmitted;
(b) selecting a corresponding one of the group consisting of: (1) one of a plurality of predetermined ranges of bandwidths, so that the selected range contains the identified bandwidth; and (2) one of a plurality of different data stream types, so that the identified capability of the recipient host is used to process data of the selected data stream type;
(c) coding the data stream in a manner which takes advantage of the range of bandwidths or type of data stream that has been or is to be selected; and (d) transmitting the coded data stream over the link to the recipient host.
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